San Francisco Conservatory of Music Announces 2014-15 Season
The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is adding depth and diversity to what is already the Bay Area's most comprehensive concert season. In 2014-15, SFCM presents twelve orchestra concerts, three full operas, premieres by nationally-known and home-grown composers, and an expanded faculty artist series of chamber works, early music and solo recitals. Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, violinist Jennifer Koh and the Pacifica Quartet are among the internationally-acclaimed guest artists presenting performances and master classes, while the Conservatory honors two stars of its own, soprano Elza van den Heever '02 and collaborative pianist Warren Jones '77, at its annual Gala in March. In addition, a new series of events will explore music beyond the concert hall. The nation's most esteemed music journalists headline the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism and industry professionals lead Game On, a conference on video game and film music. The Conservatory also hosts the favorite National Public Radio program From the Top in a radio taping before a live audience in the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall at 50 Oak Street. With some 500 events offered, most free of charge, SFCM remains San Francisco's best value for an evening of music and exploration.
SFCM President David H. Stull says the 2014-15 season reflects the Conservatory's strategy of combining superlative artistic training with an interdisciplinary education that prepares musicians for the twenty-first century. "We are tremendously excited by our new season and look forward to presenting the young artists who will occupy the professional stages of tomorrow. Our world-class faculty and superlative guest artists will be with us for both performances and master class opportunities this year, and witnessing this level of artistry in the intimacy of our concert hall is a unique experience. I look forward to welcoming our community to SFCM."
Among the season's offerings, especially noteworthy are three industry and professional development conferences hosted by the Conservatory, all open to the public. In November, SFCM takes stock of the current state of classical music and looks to its future when it hosts the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, the first symposium of its kind in the United States. Leading critics from the Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle will join aspiring young writers and the general public for an intensive week of panel discussions and performances. Lectures will precede concerts by Rubin Institute partners including the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, Cal Performances and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Student participants from SFCM and four top music schools will vie for the $10,000 Rubin Prize in Music Criticism while general audience members are invited to compete for the $1,000 Everyone's a Critic Public Prize.
SFCM's professional development center hosts two other conferences of national scope. In late October, Game On: An Insider's Guide to Video Game Scoring, a partnership with the American Composers Forum, offers students, alumni, Forum members and the public a glimpse into the technical and practical aspects of pursuing careers in this growing industry. And January's New Music Gathering unites performers and composers for music making and freewheeling discussions about supporting artist-led-ensembles in the field of contemporary music.
The 2014-15 season is also notable for its greatly expanded concert calendar. The Conservatory Orchestra led by music director Scott Sandmeier presents an ambitious twelve-concert series showcasing student and alumni soloists. Special guests include the Conservatory Chorus, led by Ragnar Bohlin, appearing in Holst's The Planets, and Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim, who will conduct works by Bach and Dvo?ák. The Conservatory Opera Program performs three fully-staged operas in SFCM's Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall: Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, Britten's Albert Herring and Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in a spring opera production conducted by Sandmeier and directed by San Francisco Opera's Jose Maria Condemi. The Musical Theatre Workshop lifts the curtain on a trio of musicals, including the revues Oh Coward!, a treasury of the wit and words of Noel Coward, and Maltby and Shire's Closer Than Ever, as well as the Tony Award-winning hit Nine.
An augmented Faculty Artist Series of chamber and solo recitals features an all-Britten program, a 50th anniversary celebration of the guitar department and Stravinsky's L'Histoire du soldat performed by an ensemble including six principal players from the San Francisco Symphony and Conservatory President Stull as narrator. The Conservatory's Historical Performance Program, directed by Corey Jamason, showcases our accomplished early music faculty and visiting artists in recitals devoted to J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, an anniversary celebration of C.P.E. Bach, Haydn piano trios and more. The Baroque Ensemble, led by Jamason and Elisabeth Reed, joins the early music season with Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea and masterpieces by Lully, Purcell and Mozart performed by students on SFCM's collection of period instruments.
Unique among Bay Area concert presenters, the Conservatory routinely features great artists teaching their craft and discussing their careers. This season, the popular Chamber Music Series presents performances and public master classes with the Grammy Award-winning Pacifica Quartet, inaugural quartet-in-residence for SFCM's new Graduate String Quartet Fellowship Program, and Geoff Nuttall, charismatic co-founder of the St. Lawrence String Quartet. The master class program also includes collaborative pianist Martin Katz, violinists David Kim and Jennifer Koh, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, and guitarists David Russell and Marcin Dylla, in addition to an ongoing series of historical performance artists sponsored by American Bach Soloists. Members of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players share the stage with SFCM's Percussion Ensemble in January for Steve Reich's Drumming, marking the second year of collaboration between the two organizations.
The Conservatory continues its historic tradition of championing new music by commissioning works, holding composition competitions and hosting composers in residence. Nicole Paiement, artistic director of the BluePrint New Music Series leads the New Music Ensemble in world and West-Coast premieres of works by Kaija Saariaho, John Glover and alumnus Robin Estrada '05, winner of the Conservatory's $15,000 Hoefer Prize in composition. Visiting composers hold casual meet-and-greets and more structured discussions before each performance. In October, BluePrint fêtes faculty composer Elinor Armer with a program of works largely composed by her former students. It's the first in a series of events celebrating Armer's 75th birthday that include a November Oral History presentation recounting highlights of Armer's influential 45-year Conservatory tenure and the Baroque Ensemble premiere of Armer's work Leonardo's Riddle. World premieres by faculty and students are also the cornerstone of the fifth annual Shanghai-San Francisco International Music Festival, a collaboration with SFCM's sister school the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, taking place in Shanghai in March.